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Allspice is a fragrant and flavorful spice that adds warmth and boldness to many sweet and savory dishes. Read on to find out what it is, where it comes from, how to use it, and how to find a substitute in a pinch.
What Is Allspice?
Contrary to what the name “all spice” suggests, allspice is not a blend of spices. If you’ve ever found yourself asking “What is allspice made of?” or “What is in allspice?” you’ll be surprised to learn that allspice is a single ingredient that comes from dried berries of the allspice tree.
What Does Allspice Taste Like?
The flavor and aroma of allspice resemble a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. It has the same warm taste you’d recognize in fall and winter themed treats like pumpkin pie, spiced apple cider, and mulled wine.
Where Does It Come From?
Allspice berries grow on the Pimenta dioica tree, a tropical evergreen tree native to the Caribbean. Before the berries are ripe, they’re picked, dried, and ground up into a powder.
When allspice was first discovered, spice traders quickly noted that its fragrance and flavor resembled a spice blend rather than a single spice. That’s how the name “allspice” came to be.
Health and Wellness Benefits
Allspice benefits are well known in traditional medicine. Not only is the spice a natural source of many vitamins and minerals, but it also contains eugenol—a compound known for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Allspice powder mixed with water can be used topically to relieve pain and prevent infection, while allspice tea can help reduce inflammation, treat indigestion, soothe nausea, and relieve menstrual cramps.
What Cuisines Use Allspice?
Allspice is used primarily in Caribbean and Latin American cuisines, since that’s where the allspice tree is grown. However, the spice is exported all over the world and can be found in many North American, European, and Middle Eastern dishes. Recipes that feature allspice as a standout ingredient include Jamaican jerked meat, Swedish meatballs, apple pie, and pumpkin desserts.
Recipe Ideas and How to Bake With Allspice
If you’d like to try making allspice recipes or allspice cocktails, here are a few ideas to inspire you:
- Jamaican jerk chicken: Use allspice in combination with other spices as a rub to prepare chicken or any other kind of meat.
- Pickled vegetables: Allspice is a must-have ingredient in any kind of pickling spice mix.
- Mince pie: The holiday season isn’t complete without the warm, sweet flavors of dried fruit and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.
- Spiced butternut squash soup: Try adding allspice to any creamy vegetable soup for a bit of extra heat and flavor.
- Pumpkin spice latte, spiced apple cider, and mulled wine: Allspice and other spices in these drinks are sure to warm you up on a cold fall or winter day.
What Is Allspice Used for in Baking?
Allspice is a wonderful ingredient in baking and can be used on its own or alongside other spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, mace, and ginger. Simply mix it in with your dry ingredients when preparing your batter, add it to cake filling and frosting, or sprinkle it on top of your desserts.
Get cozy with allspice flavored desserts like carrot cake, apple crumble, pumpkin pie, muffins, tarts, and cookies. Allspice is the key ingredient that gives these sweet treats that special fall and holiday flavor.
Where to Buy or Find Allspice
Allspice is readily available in most grocery stores across North America. If you’re having trouble finding it, it may be worth checking bulk grocers, specialty stores that carry international foods, or online retailers.
Whole or Ground?
Allspice comes in two forms: whole and ground.
When you buy whole allspice, you’re getting the dried berries of the Pimento dioica tree. You can then use them just like that if you’re brewing a tea or a cocktail, or grind them up into a powder. Grinding them yourself ensures that the allspice is always fresh and flavorful.
Ground allspice comes in powder form. Though it’s not as flavorful as the freshly ground version, many people like the convenience of having a spice that’s ready to use.
If you’ve stumbled upon a recipe that calls for allspice and don’t have any on hand, you can easily make a substitute spice mix using other spices that are similar in fragrance and flavor.
Here’s how to make allspice.
½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon of ground cloves
Combine all ingredients in a jar and mix thoroughly.
Feel free to multiply these amounts to make a larger batch of allspice and save it for later. You can also play around with the proportions—if you’re looking for a stronger flavor, you can add more cloves or nutmeg.
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